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It only gets worse from here
August 15, 2013 10:37 PM   Subscribe

It became necessary to finish this thing. A U.S.-funded 'ally' has carried out one of the largest massacres of protesters since the 1989 assault on Tiananmen Square. At least 525 people (and counting and counting) have been killed since Egypt's police and army attacked two sit-ins in support of ousted president Muhammad Morsi on August 14th. Armored cars, police officers, and soldiers marched on the protests in Nasr City and Giza, opening fire with birdshot, tear gas, and live ammunition. It only gets worse from here.

We haven't seen in Egypt's history this many attacks against journalists: cameraman Mick Deane was shot and killed and reporter Habiba Abdelaziz was shot in the head. There were tanks there.

These expert commentators will explain everything if you're confused.

What about Washington's major alliance with the Egyptian military? The US canceled a scheduled military exercise, but not an annual $1.3 billion of military aid. Where does it go, anyways? (It's not buying any popularity). And why send so many extra tanks? Enough is enough. The Egyptian military did what we explicitly told them not to do. How can we still pretend that this aid is giving us influence? All that continued aid shows is that the US is willing to tolerate virtually any wrongdoing by its client, no matter how blatant or destructive it is.

A violent sectarian backlash is spreading, especially against Coptic Christians. But religion has a way of dominating any discussion of the Middle East, until it’s easy to forget that other forces also shape the way people behave. Morsi was no democrat and the Muslim Brotherhood is also an illiberal titan. Neither the Brotherhood nor the military made the kind of bargain and compromises necessary for a successful democratic transition. This is really a failure to share and the collapse of checks and balances. But don't buy the story that the army is the solution. This might be cultivated extremism.

Nothing has changed. It's no surprise—just the triumph of stupidity.

Photos: Aftermath of Cairo violence. Horrifying photos from Rabaa from Mosa'ab Elshamy. More on Flickr.
Live blogs: Al Jazeera | The Guardian
Twitter lists: Tweeting from Egypt | AP journalists | Al Jazeera | Anthony DeRosa
posted by ecmendenhall (143 comments total) 61 users marked this as a favorite

 
Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others. Everyone cheering on the coup against the democratically elected government of Egypt because they didn't like the outcome of the election now get to see the results of one of those other forms of government.
posted by empath at 10:53 PM on August 15, 2013 [14 favorites]


I just wish this is not marked as the beginning of the end of the arab spring.
posted by TheLittlePrince at 11:02 PM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


U.S.-Egyptian coproduction of the M1A1 Abrams Battle tank, which began in 1988, is one of the cornerstones of U.S. military assistance to Egypt... General Dynamics of Sterling Heights, MI, is the prime contractor for the program.28

General Dynamics has apparently had their hooks in President Obama since he was a Senator in Illinois, via numerous and extensive campaign donations made by the Crown family, which owned 20% of the company as of 2007.

That ~1.5 billion in military aid isn't going anywhere. Obama will make a few limp speeches about democracy, the checks will get cashed, and business will keep rolling along for the Left.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:03 PM on August 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Cannot imagine holy moly ... No adequate words
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 11:03 PM on August 15, 2013


.
posted by Brak at 11:04 PM on August 15, 2013


The key aspect of aid to the Egyptian Army is "don't attack Israel". That was the original deal, and I haven't heard differently since. So while this is a great pile of links covering a lot of sides of the whole terrible thing going on, it feels like there's this great question mark being left unaddressed, namely what pressure Israel is exerting, and to what end.
posted by fatbird at 11:05 PM on August 15, 2013 [14 favorites]


" business will keep rolling along for the Left."

The left? The military-industrial-complex is now 'the Left'?

The political contributions/bribes seem to be quite bipartisan.
posted by NSA at 11:14 PM on August 15, 2013 [17 favorites]


Israel isn't exerting the pressure. It is in the US's interest to have a moderate democracy in the region. Turkey is the only other one I can think of. It's not the Jews pulling the strings.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:19 PM on August 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Here's some footage from the protest. You tell me if those people were doing anything that deserved death.
posted by empath at 11:25 PM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


So while this is a great pile of links covering a lot of sides of the whole terrible thing going on, it feels like there's this great question mark being left unaddressed, namely what pressure Israel is exerting, and to what end.

Israel just wants stability, I don't think they were particularly opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood (well they were, but probably not enough to fund a military coup). The vast majority of the money is coming from wealthy corrupt Egyptians and the Gulf States, not Israel -- not even the US.
posted by empath at 11:27 PM on August 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others. Everyone cheering on the coup against the democratically elected government of Egypt because they didn't like the outcome of the election now get to see the results of one of those other forms of government.

It's a complex situation. The President was no longer acting with the consent of the governed. He was tossed because a large chunk of the citizens feared that he was turning the country into a theocratic dictatorship. It's problematic to argue that faced with the fear that democracy is already lost Egyptians should not revolt again because it would be anti-democratic. It's just a no-win. Every revolution risks making the situation bloodier and worse, but they have to occur sometimes.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:29 PM on August 15, 2013 [30 favorites]


This is one of the problems of having the military in charge of things. By the way, who assassinated Anwar Sadat again?
posted by KokuRyu at 11:31 PM on August 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's not the Jews pulling the strings.

I didn't mean to imply this. Empath got what I was getting at: Israel wants stability, and to not be attacked, and for the last few decades American aid to the Egyptian army has been what underwrote the relationship between Egypt and Israel. In other words, for realpolitik reasons if no other, Israel is a big stakeholder here. Withdrawal of American aid is a huge destabilizer in one of the most calming relationships in the Middle East, and to discuss the situation without mentioning Israel is leaving out a big part of the equation. At the very least, the Egyptian Army can, and likely has, said to the U.S. "if you cut our aid, we start looking at our strategic options again." Which isn't a terribly potent threat, but is not one administration officials are going to ignore, especially when Netanyahu is on the other line saying "Don't cut the aid!"
posted by fatbird at 11:34 PM on August 15, 2013 [17 favorites]


He was tossed because a large chunk of the citizens feared that he was turning the country into a theocratic dictatorship. It's problematic to argue that faced with the fear that democracy is already lost Egyptians should not revolt again because it would be anti-democratic

Well, you know the great thing about a democracy is that you have elections, and if they don't like Morsi, they could have voted him out in another couple of years. I suspect that the 'large chunk of citizens' didn't constitute a majority.
posted by empath at 11:34 PM on August 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Empath got what I was getting at: Israel wants stability, and to not be attacked, and for the last few decades American aid to the Egyptian army has been what underwrote the relationship between Egypt and Israel. In other words, for realpolitik reasons if no other, Israel is a big stakeholder here.

To be clear, whatever influence Israel and the US has is being dwarfed by the influence of money from countries like Bahrain and Qatar.
posted by empath at 11:36 PM on August 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


the coup against the democratically elected government of Egypt

A coup against an authoritarian figure from a theocratic party, installed by machinations based on the results of the first election held under a hastily re-written constitution, with changes to the rules going on right up to about a month before the election. Yes, coups are to be deprecated, but this is not like someone elected in a normal election. Part of Egypt's problem is that the whole process was rushed, with the result that there has been a fight between the dominant social groups (i.e., the Muslim Brotherhood and the military) and the judiciary. They ended up with a bad structure, and the parliamentary elections held under that structure were found to have been unconstitutional. It's all one big mess.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:36 PM on August 15, 2013 [14 favorites]


money from countries like Bahrain and Qatar

I didn't know this. Are they funding the military directly?

That said, the dollar figures from the U.S. are less important than the fact that the door to the U.S. military supply chain is open. That $1.5 billion in aid mostly goes to American weapons manufacturers. What the Egyptians army is most interested in, wrt this particular form of aid, is keeping their access to tanks and spare parts.
posted by fatbird at 11:38 PM on August 15, 2013


I didn't know this

Here's more info about it -- they came up with the money immediately after the coup.
posted by empath at 11:39 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


A coup against an authoritarian figure from a theocratic party, installed by machinations based on the results of the first election held under a hastily re-written constitution, with changes to the rules going on right up to about a month before the election.

But enough about George Bush.
posted by empath at 11:40 PM on August 15, 2013 [21 favorites]


Here we go again.

The details are different, but it looks like a similar pattern is emerging.

Algeria. In December 1991, Algeria's government of the day cancelled an election after the first round because it looked like the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) was going to win.

The country's military took control of the government. FIS was banned, thousands of its members arrested. Islamist guerrillas rapidly emerged: Islamic Armed Movement (MIA) in the mountains; and Armed Islamic Group (GIA) in the towns. The guerrillas initially targeted the army and police, but some groups soon started attacking civilians. It is estimated over 200,000 people in Algeria were killed between 1991-2002.

Egypt is beginning to look like Algeria redux.
posted by Mister Bijou at 11:43 PM on August 15, 2013 [13 favorites]


provocateurs shooting police
posted by stbalbach at 12:08 AM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


You tell me if those people were doing anything that deserved death.

Obviously nobody deserves to be brutalized by their own military. That said, if you can get any moral clarity out of those nine minutes of shaky, context-free video, you're either a lot smarter or a lot more gullible than I am.
posted by R. Schlock at 12:16 AM on August 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


I apologize if I missed this in one of the many links above, but one of the important issues in this story is the United States' ambiguous stance on whether the overthrow is in fact the military coup that it quite obviously is. We want to provide military aid, but we aren't allowed to do so after a coup. What a dilly of a great big pickle, huh? Let's pass the mic to State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki for the resolution:
QUESTION: Okay. So, can you explain clearly, with clarity, the Administration decision, announcement yesterday on Egypt and the non-coup coup designation?

MS. PSAKI: I can, but let’s see. We believe that the continued provision of assistance to Egypt, consistent with our law, is important to our goal of advancing a responsible transition to democratic governance, and is consistent with our national security interests.

As you all know and we’ve all talked about, Egypt serves as a stabilizing pillar of regional peace and security, and the United States has a national security interest in a stable and successful democratic transition in Egypt. The law does not require us to make a formal determination – that is a review that we have undergone – as to whether a coup took place, and it is not in our national interest to make such a determination. So we will work with Congress to determine how best to continue assistance to Egypt in a manner that encourages Egypt’s interim government to quickly and responsibly transition back to a stable, democratic, civilian-led, and inclusive government.

QUESTION: Okay. Can you explain to me, or to all of us, how it took this crack team of warriors three and a half weeks to come up with a determination that essentially sounds like something that Sergeant Schultz would have said on “Hogan’s Heroes,” or that we might all know as being the motto that is underneath pictures of three monkeys covering their ears, mouth, and --

MS. PSAKI: I am not a big “Hogan’s Heroes” fan. (Laughter.)
On the bright side, admitting that you've exploited a legal loophole is one form of the transparency that Obama promised.

For what it's worth, the relevant law is here. I can't find the loophole; would love it if someone could find it for me.
posted by compartment at 12:19 AM on August 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


The left? The military-industrial-complex is now 'the Left'?

To the extent that their current employees are the majority in Congress and the current Commander-in-Chief, it does seem that way. As powerless taxpayers and voters, all we have left is a shame-filled apology to the Egyptian people for paying and voting for their murderers.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:31 AM on August 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


The loophole is: the US executive does whatever it likes and nobody is ever held to account.
posted by pharm at 12:31 AM on August 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm surprised a professor of political science thinks this way to justify the crackdown by the military:
Mona Ebeid, former member of the Egyptian parliament and a distinguished professor of political science at the American University of Cairo, disagrees. She argued that the military gave the protesters several chances to leave the squares safely and justified its actions in the name of creating stability. “Foreign investors are waiting for the situation to stabilize in Egypt."
http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-08-15/egypt-shocked-scared-and-still-divided#p2
posted by mulligan at 12:31 AM on August 16, 2013


Further to my post above, I failed to spell out that not only did the Algerian guerillas kill civilians... but so did the Algerian military and police.

Indeed, in many instances it is still not clear who exactly were the perpetrators of carnage in what proved to be a bloody, gruesome, civil war.
posted by Mister Bijou at 12:38 AM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


A coup against an authoritarian figure from a theocratic party, installed by machinations based on the results of the first election held under a hastily re-written constitution

Another way to say it is "the guy who got the most votes". I guess that doesn't sound as bad, though.
posted by Justinian at 12:42 AM on August 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Speak Softly and Carry No Stick, James Traub, Foreign Policy, 15 August 2013
President Barack Obama, we know, believes in "engagement." He believes that maintaining ties even with the most hateful regimes holds out the possibility of progress. In his Nobel Peace Prize speech he mocked moralists -- implicitly including his predecessor, George W. Bush -- who preferred "the satisfying purity of indignation" to the hard and very impure work of diplomacy. And that, I imagine, is why Obama has reacted so cautiously to the shocking massacres in Egypt, canceling planned military exercises but leaving U.S. military aid intact.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:19 AM on August 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


One of the questions that I have is, with all the U.S.'s spying and surveillance programs, why does it appear that D.C. was caught so completely off guard?
posted by kanewai at 1:25 AM on August 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


They're spending a lot of money collecting information on the internet because it's easy, but most of the MB's support comes from people who probably don't use facebook or have smart phones.
posted by empath at 1:29 AM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


ob1quixote: "canceling planned military exercises but leaving U.S. military aid intact."

There's a fair point embedded in there. It's not like US military aid to Egypt just became morally objectionable today.
posted by Apropos of Something at 2:22 AM on August 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


the only thing the u s can do is cut off the money - perhaps they should, but arab countries are giving egypt much more than we are

the only thing israel can do is keep cooperation going on with egypt over border issues and hope the american money continues to enable that

it's a no win situation for both countries
posted by pyramid termite at 2:32 AM on August 16, 2013


The real problem is that American influence has fallen so drastically or the goals of the generals and America become so divergent that they weren't able to threaten/bribe the army to do something a little less embarrassing.

I think the second Iraq war really will turn out to be the beginning of the end, if only because of the cost and the effect on "foreign aid".

Disclaimer : I am not actually this cynical, but they are.
posted by fullerine at 2:50 AM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's hard to see a good outcome here, seems like "least bad" is all that can be hoped for, and even that's going to be bad for just about everybody.

There's certainly no magic fix that the USA can bring to the situation, but on balance, it does seem wiser to at least try to maintain some sort of relationship rather than sever all contact. Pulling all US military aid would send a strong message, but once that's done, seems like whoever ends up in charge of Egypt then would have that much less incentive to listen to reason.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 3:14 AM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


My son is taking World History in High School, and was asking about this for his current events section. I ballparked numbers from polling, and split along cultural values.

My numbers aren't good enuf to analyze deeply (For Illustration Only), but this shows how the power flow may have worked. TOT is total percentage 'power', with Army ballparked at 35%. Italics illustrate coalitions (forgive the formatting). Mub refers to Mubarak = Old Corrupt Power, starting at 10% tribal and 10% paid. (Assad the Elder said you need 10% of the population for a police state.) The Arab Spring provided a coalition of Traditional and Secular, which the Army went with (87.25); the paid goons left the Mubarak coalition.

But then the Traditional (Muslim Brotherhood) coalition had more power than the Army, which would not do. The Egyptian Military owns several industries, which could have been threatened by reformist Traditionals, who tend to get all ethical and Sharia law. So the Army forms a coalition with Old Power and Secular/Rational (60.95), and dumps the elected government in this coup. My final guess for outcome is that the Army rejoins the Old Corrupt Power, which understands the money flow and starts paying its goons again; marginalizes the pissed-off Traditionals as a permanent threat; and the Secular/Rationalists are left wondering why they still don't have a seat at the grown-up table.


TOT ARMY Mub %left Traditional Secular ?
55 35 20 45 :66 29.7 :29 13.05 :4 1.8

87.25 35 10 55 :66 36.3 :29 15.95 :4 2.2

60.95 35 10 55 :66 36.3 :29 15.95 :4 2.2

50 35 15 50 :66 33 :29 14.5 :4 2
posted by dragonsi55 at 3:24 AM on August 16, 2013


Follow the money
There is also the fact that real civilian rule could spell an end to the system of massive military corruption and patronage that has gone on for decades in Egypt, a system that has given the military unimpeded control over an estimated 40% of the Egyptian economy–”a state within a state” as a well-informed Egyptian friend of mine puts it.

And just to note that the American so called ''left''; anywhere across the atlantic and south of Florida would be called centre right.
posted by adamvasco at 3:42 AM on August 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


and from a year ago
Egypt’s ruling military has warned against any interference in its murky economic empire amid a burgeoning power struggle with Islamists who control parliament.
posted by adamvasco at 3:45 AM on August 16, 2013



I can't find the loophole; would love it if someone could find it for me.


It's the first sentence in sec. 7008.
posted by jpe at 4:06 AM on August 16, 2013


oh, sorry, you asked about the loophole, not the rule......it's early.
posted by jpe at 4:12 AM on August 16, 2013


I don't really know, for certain, which side I support here, except I don't support killing people. Those guys suck.

It's kind of silly to blame Obama for having ties to the tank-makers. The military aid is esentially a product of the Camp David Accords. Egypt cannot have a military that is both strong enough and willing enough to attack Israel, and there are voices on both right and left backing that. And nobody has yet mentioned Suez.

The first whiff of an interruption in the canal, and the Eurozone is right back in recession, I guarantee that.

It's a lot less expensive to buy off the Egyptian military than the alternative.
posted by dhartung at 4:13 AM on August 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Nothing in the Middle East is ever simple.

Disentangling the mess in Egypt means disentangling the stakeholders, the funding around them and the economic and political interests supporting them against a backdrop of frustrated voters and politicians who have been under martial law almost continuously since 1967.

Egypt has been a political football for more than half a century, when the US and the Soviet Union supported a coup against the British backed monarchy of King Farouk.

The US provides significant funding because the Army provides political and economic stability, broadly supports peace with Israel and prevents Iranian access to either the Suez, or Hamas through the Sinai.

The Gulf States provide significant support to Egypt because it is mainly Sunni, provides influence against aligning with Iran, supports a growing salafist movement that came second in the 2011 elections, and in theory keeps a lid on the growth of Islamic extremism that could set off a second Arab Spring.

Iran doesn't provide any/much funding to Egypt but notably moved closer to the Muslim Brotherhood administration in 2012 and is consistently in the wings as regional influencer and all round bogeyman to western and Gulf state interests.

The Army itself is a mini economy/kleptocracy, built around control of the tourist industry, construction and infrastructure interests and in no mood to give up the privilege or the power it has.

The Muslim Brotherhood is a regional bogeyman because it enjoys considerable support in Egypt but also has alliances across Africa and the Middle East. Longstanding repression in Egypt and elsewhere has served to make the Muslim Brotherhood trend more extreme.

It is small wonder peace is so hard to achieve with so many vested interests and such regional significance. And where the most popular party has strong but minority parliamentary support from voters, sits between liberal and extremist interests, and is unfavoured by almost every external power.
posted by MuffinMan at 4:38 AM on August 16, 2013 [11 favorites]


One of the questions that I have is, with all the U.S.'s spying and surveillance programs, why does it appear that D.C. was caught so completely off guard?

They saw this coming. Heck, lots of people without access to fancy intelligence programs predicted exactly this outcome since we've seen similar things happening over and over again. It's just that the US has no trouble letting hundreds of Egyptians get murdered if it serves their foreign policy interests. Unfortunately this could be the start of a civil war, which almost often turns sectarian in the ME, with thousands and thousands of murdered civilians and Egypt reduced to shambles.

.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 4:38 AM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Egypt has been a political football for more than half a century, when the US and the Soviet Union supported a coup against the British backed monarchy of King Farouk.

It's been a political football since Alexander the great. They've rarely been in charge of their own destiny since the Pharaohs.
posted by empath at 4:51 AM on August 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


With all the things we've done in the Middle East and North Africa I can't imagine there's anything the US can do (including nothing at all) that won't piss off someone/everyone. It's a sad consequence of decades of foreign policy/covert operations and was totally predictable if you paid any attention at all.

If our 24/7 media overload has done anything, it's made the deaths of those caught in the crossfire real to outsiders. People convinced themselves the Nazi death camps weren't happening, no one is really sure how many died under Stalin and Pol Pot but we are very aware of who is dying in Egypt and Syria. They're real people, not abstract numbers in a history book. Maybe, just maybe, this will instigate change in how we act internationally.

But I'm not hopeful.
posted by tommasz at 5:00 AM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Although it pales against the lost lives and bloodshed, there has been another serious round of looting of in a museum (let alone the on-going evisceration of archaeological sites): brief summary here, round-up of links in German here, one of the Facebook groups dedicated to Egypt's cultural heritage here (mostly in Arabic), photos of the museum before here (French), photo of a very famous statue of Akhenaten's daughter, now lost. Should anyone happen to know anything about the objects, this is from Egypt's Heritage Task Force's wall:
Currently, the number of looted objects are 1050. The Ministry of Antiquities (MSA) is announcing a campaign to retrieve the objects and offering compensation for those who will return the objects and no police follow-up. People who would want to deliver the objects should take them to al-Ashmounein storehouse and make sure to take a police record of the delivery and a copy of the identity card of the person who receives the object. People who are unable to go to al-Ashmounein can contact these two persons of the MSA: Mr. Ahmed Askalani: 01236903831/01003609440 and Mr. Usama Talaat: 01009673878. Or you can contact our campaign's number: 01144409974 and we will try to offer assistance.
posted by jetlagaddict at 5:10 AM on August 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's still early to un-friend Egypt - they are an immense nation with a huge population and some of the most respected Islamic and secular scholars in the Arab world. They also have an advanced military and gigantic standing army, within easy striking distance of all of North African and Arabian oil producers, and they control the Suez Canal, and a war between them and Israel would be catastrophic and possibly nuclear.

Even so, Obama appears to have gotten off the fence. Cancelling the wargames is a very, very strong message, aimed squarely at the military brass. It means the US no longer trusts the Egyptian Military as an ally, which means the US is recalculating the level of aid, and may shift part of it to a regional rival - this is a direct attack on the pocketbook and prestige of the military leadership. The ideal result would be some song and dance about "renegade commanders exceeded their authority" and a shakeup of the leadership structure that leads to a more moderate line on including the Islamic Brotherhood and Morsi in negotiations on the constitution.

I'm not holding my breath, tho... there are no doubt some factions who would love to see a secular and hyper-authoritarian society emerge from the chaos of a civil war, like it has in Algeria.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:19 AM on August 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is a really excellent post! Lots of meaty details, and not just the usual one or two articles on the current issue. Great job.
Now I'll go stick my head back in the sand.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:43 AM on August 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is what it looks like just before the Muslim Brotherhood jumps you. Photos and story from an Egyptian-American(I assume) photographer. He was attacked after photographing MB supporters beating up an old man who'd tried to persuade them not to vandalize St Fatima Church.
posted by Flashman at 5:44 AM on August 16, 2013 [15 favorites]


From the Juan Cole "Neither the Brotherhood nor the Military" link:
Once Muhammad Morsi was elected president in June, 2012, he made a slow-motion coup. He pushed through a Brotherhood constitution in December of 2012 in a referendum with about a 30% turnout in which it garnered only 63%– i.e. only a fifth of the country voted for it. The judges went on strike rather than oversee balloting, so the referendum did not meet international standards....

But the Egyptian military bears the other part of the blame for the failed transition. Ambitious officers such as Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Morsi’s Minister of Defense, were secretly determined to undo Morsi’s victory at the polls. They said they wanted him to compromise with his political rivals, but it seems to me they wanted more, they wanted him neutered....

Although al-Sisi said he recognized an interim civilian president, supreme court chief justice Adly Mansour, and although a civilian prime minister and cabinet was put in place to oversee a transition to new elections, al-Sisi is in charge. It is a junta, bent on uprooting the Muslim Brotherhood. Without buy-in from the Brotherhood, there can be no democratic transition in Egypt. And after Black Wednesday, there is unlikely to be such buy-in, perhaps for a very long time. Wednesday’s massacre may have been intended to forestall Brotherhood participation in civil politics. Perhaps the generals even hope the Brotherhood will turn to terrorism, providing a pretext for their destruction.
posted by audi alteram partem at 5:45 AM on August 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


empath: Well, you know the great thing about a democracy is that you have elections, and if they don't like Morsi, they could have voted him out in another couple of years. I suspect that the 'large chunk of citizens' didn't constitute a majority.

You suspect? It was only the largest protest in human history.
posted by shii at 5:54 AM on August 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Does the US have any real influence in Egypt? If the Egyptian military thinks that their fate under the MB is at best going to be like the army in Turkey at best or like Ghaddaffi or Saddam at worst, then there is no amount of US aid, pressure, and diplomacy that will make them decide to cut their own throats.

I can see the argument that the US should not be supporting a regime that uses violence against it's own citizens, and it's a strong one. But I honestly don't think the US has much leverage here in terms of how the situation turns out or stopping future massacres.
posted by Grimgrin at 5:55 AM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Does the US have any real influence in Egypt?

This is my suspicion also. In the midst of a coup (even if it's a coup-by-some-other-name here in Washington), the threat of losing military aid may be pretty indistinct compared to the threat of a short drop and a hard stop, or some even more ignominious end, if the coup doesn't go off or doesn't result in the destruction of the Muslim Brotherhood as a viable political opponent.

The international geopolitical angles are there, and are obviously a concern to the US, Israel, European countries, etc. But there's not much evidence that they are the primary concern of the people driving the tanks. They may very well not give a shit about military aid, or the strategic posture in the Sinai, or anything else that's more than a week away. So trying to negotiate using those points as leverage would be fruitless.

But tossing away that leverage, e.g. by canceling the military assistance program, would be both premature and shortsighted. There may be nothing that the US can do right now that would have any real effect on the military. But when the bloodshed stops, assuming that it does, and the possibility exists for negotiations centered around things beyond immediate survival, then the US has a significant chip to play.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:12 AM on August 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Does the US have any real influence in Egypt?

I personally sat in a meeting between Mubarak and General Tommy Franks when the latter was making his farewell tour of CENTCOM back in '03, and I can assure you -- as long as the Egyptian military holds any amount of power, the U.S. has real influence.
posted by Etrigan at 6:12 AM on August 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


One of the questions that I have is, with all the U.S.'s spying and surveillance programs, why does it appear that D.C. was caught so completely off guard?


Probably because so much effort went into tracking, analyzing and reporting to higher ups your comments on metafilter.
posted by notreally at 6:12 AM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


.
posted by angrycat at 6:15 AM on August 16, 2013


It was only the largest protest in human history.
That video isn't working for me for some reason, so I don't know whether or not it's the source of your claim, but... what's the source of your claim?

Wikipedia says 300,000 people, of which 100,000 were protesting against the protestors, and it seems unfair to count those 100,000 Morsi supporters as being part of it in this sense. So really 200,000.

Meanwhile, Wikipedia says estimates for the worldwide anti-war protest in February 2003 range from six to thirty million. And even if you only accept individual protests in that rather than the overall worldwide total, you've still got numbers like three million in Rome and 1.5 million in Madrid.

To be clear, I don't know if that's the biggest; it's just one that came to mind.
posted by Flunkie at 6:23 AM on August 16, 2013


[Comment deleted. Please do not try to turn this into an I/P thread.]
posted by taz at 6:32 AM on August 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


what's the source of your claim?

The protests in June allegedly had 14 million people in the streets. We discussed the likelihood of that being at all accurate here.
posted by Etrigan at 6:42 AM on August 16, 2013


they could have voted him out in another couple of years

A couple of years is more than enough time to establish an anti-Democratic system though, is the problem. That's why all Democracies need strong referendum/recall voting mechanisms.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:48 AM on August 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm confused. How is the fact that a prior government from a month ago was an ally make this about the US? Its a coup. Duh. We are cancelling aircraft deliveries and military cooperation.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:12 AM on August 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


America's ally *is* the Egyptian military, not Morsi's government. In principle, our government doesn't mind working with Islamists. I'd imagine this military coup expects they'll land on the U.S. nice list once they demonstrate an ability to suppress the opposition, even if the U.S. must play pissed off in the short term.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:33 AM on August 16, 2013


America's ally *is* the Egyptian military, not Morsi's government.

If that was the case, why didn't we do what the military wanted and support Hosni Mubarak? The facts completely undercut that statement.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:36 AM on August 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm praying that this doesn't turn into another civil war like Syria, if it does it will turn into the hardcore Islamists who want to impose Sharia law, vs. the hardline military. The moderates and anyone who tries to find a common sense middle ground will be lined up and shot by both sides. This is what has already happened in Syria, and is going on at a lower level in Iraq. If it spreads to Egypt we're in for one hell of a mess.
posted by smoothvirus at 7:57 AM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just because we're not always complete morons, Ironmouth. The Anti-Mubarak protests were staggering in size. America wanted to retain good relations with whoever his successor was. etc.

And obviously Egypt's military aren't always complete morons either because they stepped back to Mubarak's government fall too. We probably helped pressure them into accepting elections and Morsi's government, but ultimately they simply won't tolerate civilian rule.

We'll just accept that our old military friends tried to be democratic and restart the military aid. Or we'll play buddy buddy with the Islamists if they win.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:05 AM on August 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think something many Westerners for granted is the peaceful transfer of power through elections. We've been doing this democratic election thing (limited success) for a while now, and so its hard to imagine a system where it doesn't happen.

America has had issues with Egypt's democratic process for a while, which has never been terribly democratic. Obviously, the US has a multifaceted interest in Egyptian democracy, but President Bush pretty much strong armed Mubarak into improving elections in 2005. Obviously it didn't take, but I'm not sure how you convince a nation that democracy really will work better if you just let it run its course.
posted by lownote at 8:08 AM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]



Well, you know the great thing about a democracy is that you have elections, and if they don't like Morsi, they could have voted him out in another couple of years. I suspect that the 'large chunk of citizens' didn't constitute a majority.


You think Morsi would have allowed subsequent elections. TO quote another Islamist, "democracy is a bus. When I reach my stop, I get off."
posted by ocschwar at 8:09 AM on August 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


why didn't we do what the military wanted and support Hosni Mubarak?

There is at least one problem with this: leading factions of the military by late January 2011 were no longer prepared to support Mubarak.
posted by Mister Bijou at 8:10 AM on August 16, 2013


I doubt civil war. The brothers are losing support around the world. The Saudis and Co. will through more billions if need be to combat the brothers. Look, Morsi fucked up few will deny, so what are the rest of the people to do. The brothers are holding the country hostage with their non-compromising postions. I don't think many trust them anymore. This is sad. It is really about the Suez as dhartung pointed out.
posted by clavdivs at 8:15 AM on August 16, 2013


and nobody has yet mentioned Suez.

Nothing in the Middle East is ever simple.

I think something many Westerners for granted is the peaceful transfer of power through elections.

It's been a political football since Alexander the great. They've rarely been in charge of their own destiny since the Pharaohs.

It is really about the Suez as dhartung pointed out.

Now I'll go stick my head back in the sand.

posted by philip-random at 8:22 AM on August 16, 2013


From Leon Wieseltier at The New Republic: But the military takeover of Egypt is complicated by an astonishing fact: it appears to enjoy the support of a majority of Egyptians. These official atrocities are popular.
posted by shivohum at 8:29 AM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I realize that this thread is positioned as the US take on Egypt, but just to be clear, what's going on over there is not about the U.S., and the average Egyptian has pretty much given up caring what Obama and the U.S. has to say about it. While it's easy to watch from the outside and discuss strategy and the importance of the Suez canal, for those living it, or with loved ones living it, it's really about finding the fastest way through that has the highest likelihood of not destroying the country for years to come. Unfortunately, that solution may not even exist at this point.

Despite what a lot of the media coverage is saying, this was not a peaceful protest, and while there has been an increase in violence since the crackdown, the violence is not solely a 'backlash' to the crackdown. My in-laws watched MB protesters throw molotov cocktails into buildings and attack those who objected to their actions two weeks before they cleared the sit-ins. Another friend had a brother that was gunned down with his friends in the area of one of the protests, in a car that had a cross hanging from the windshield.

I'm not saying the military's response is right, and I really wish so many Egyptians weren't dying, but I assure you, none of the Western countries now condemning the violence against the protests would have sat idly by and watched while 'peaceful protestors' attacked their residents and tried to destroy their country.

For another good discussion.
posted by scrute at 8:34 AM on August 16, 2013 [15 favorites]


none of the Western countries now condemning the violence against the protests would have sat idly by and watched while 'peaceful protestors' attacked their residents and tried to destroy their country.

Agreed. It's just such a pity that it had to come to this.
posted by shivohum at 8:37 AM on August 16, 2013


I doubt civil war.

Clueless.

Recent events in Egypt suggest it is going down a path similar to that of Algeria. And there are some who know what happened in Algeria: Algerian Civil War 1991-2002.
posted by Mister Bijou at 8:45 AM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is what it looks like just before the Muslim Brotherhood jumps you.

I had to laugh out loud when I read this:

“It’s my mom. She wants to talk to you.” I can hear her screaming at him through the phone like I’ve never heard her scream before. “I’m sorry, I’m very sorry,” he spurts. “Fifteen minutes and he’ll have it back.” Lies. “Why’d you call your mom, man? That’s messed up.”
posted by KokuRyu at 8:51 AM on August 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


empath: "They've rarely been in charge of their own destiny since the Pharaohs."

That's quite dismissive, and denies agency and accountability of Egyptians for being in the mess they're in now. Ever since they abolished the monarchy, they've been very much independent but decided to squander their independence in the hands of Nasser.
posted by gertzedek at 8:58 AM on August 16, 2013


Well, you know the great thing about a democracy is that you have elections, and if they don't like Morsi, they could have voted him out in another couple of years.

Just like they did Naguib, Nassar, Sadat, and Mubarek.
posted by IndigoJones at 9:00 AM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Let me fix that for you: That's quite dismissive, and denies agency and accountability of Egyptians Americans for being in the mess they're in now. Ever since they abolished the monarchy, they've been very much independent but decided to squander their independence in the hands of Nasser the military-industrial security state.
posted by Mister Bijou at 9:03 AM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


For some Americans, it always comes back to the Americans, doesn't it, no matter how tenuous or ludicrous the comparison. But it has to be all about you, right?
posted by KokuRyu at 9:09 AM on August 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


For some Americans, it always comes back to the Americans, doesn't it, no matter how tenuous or ludicrous the comparison. But it has to be all about you, right?

Since America is the primary provider of aid to the Egyptian military, whose suppression of protests is the subject of this post, it seems reasonable to talk a bit in the thread about how this affects America and how they might respond.
posted by Aizkolari at 9:20 AM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


But the military takeover of Egypt is complicated by an astonishing fact: it appears to enjoy the support of a majority of Egyptians.

The majority of people genuinely do not care about who's occupying the golden throne, as long as they themselves have jobs and can raise their families in relative peace. When things are shitty, any change is easy to see as better than the status quo.

These official atrocities are popular.

I wish I could be more astonished at this as well, but official atrocities are often popular: Jim Crow, the Japanese internment during WWII, practically every genocide ever... As long as you can spin it as "Well, if those others weren't so othery in their otherness, 'we' wouldn't have to do this!"
posted by Etrigan at 9:22 AM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Since America is the primary provider of aid to the Egyptian military, whose suppression of protests is the subject of this post, it seems reasonable to talk a bit in the thread about how this affects America and how they might respond.

To compare the situation in Egypt with democracy in the US is just plain dumb.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:29 AM on August 16, 2013


Yeah, in the US we don't massacre our own civilians. Sure, we do launch pointless invasions that kill a hundred thousand civilians overseas, but we avoid mass slaughter of our own citizens. Voters don't like it when you do that apparently.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:34 AM on August 16, 2013


Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others. Everyone cheering on the coup against the democratically elected government of Egypt because they didn't like the outcome of the election now get to see the results of one of those other forms of government.

Yes, and they're cheering it on. The people killed after all are ignorant, fanatical slum dwellers, who would remake Israel into a dictatorial theocracy like Saudi Arabia or Iran, whose leaders don't much like democracy either after it had gotten them into power.

If you're a middle class, cosmopolitian, westernised Egyptian, these people scare you shitless, especially as there are so many of them and so many are willing to be killed for their faith.

Imagine if the Westboro Church had millions of fanatical followers all out to remake the US into a properly Christian country, imagine if by some fluke they won the presidency and then set out to rule by decree; wouldn't you cheer on the army in a coup?

It's not necessarily true that the Muslim Brotherhood is that dangerous or evil, just that plenty of nice middle class Egyptians suspect they are.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:37 AM on August 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


And of course, us MeFites know so much more about the MB than the nice middle class Egyptians do.
posted by ocschwar at 10:46 AM on August 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


The people killed after all are ignorant, fanatical slum dwellers

Even if you're correct does that make it okay to butcher them by the hundreds or thousands?
posted by Justinian at 10:56 AM on August 16, 2013


imagine if by some fluke

Also the "fluke" in this case is "winning the most votes".
posted by Justinian at 10:57 AM on August 16, 2013


does that make it okay to butcher them

I think Martin was explaining a local motive, not justifying it.
posted by fatbird at 11:03 AM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think Martin was mocking the local motive, which is pretty easy to do when you're not the one standing to be murdered by those creatures.

The MB's tent encampment was not a Occupy Wall Street outpost. They are, in fact, fanatics who have demonstrated a willingness to murder their opponents and who see shying back from such acts as a sign of weakness.
posted by ocschwar at 11:09 AM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


"fluke" in this case is "winning the most votes".

Democracy requires that majority rule be tempered by procedural protections of minority rights and interests. As Cole explains in the post I quoted above, Morsi's actions after his election were undemocratic.
posted by audi alteram partem at 11:12 AM on August 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Sure, but that's a post-election issue. He came to power in the first place because he got the most votes. It wasn't some sort of procedural chicanery.
posted by Justinian at 11:19 AM on August 16, 2013



Sure, but that's a post-election issue.


You can dismiss an issue as "post election" if you have confidence that you can make it a pre-election issue some time in the future. The Egyptians who took to the streets last month and triggered this coup did not have that confidence.
posted by ocschwar at 11:27 AM on August 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


Imagine if the Westboro Church had millions of fanatical followers

I think the proper question is why does the Muslim Brotherhood have millions of "fanatical" followers? My assumption is because Egyptian society is broken (no jobs, bread riots, etc).
posted by KokuRyu at 11:33 AM on August 16, 2013


Well, yeah. The Muslim Brotherhood has been the voice of the voiceless since the days Egypt was still a British protectorate, sometimes oppressed, sometimes cultivated as an alternative to more dangerous, secular forces. They're so powerful because they're about the only group that has consistently stood up for the common people, with every leftwing alternative ruthlessly suppressed.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:36 AM on August 16, 2013


Sure, but that's a post-election issue. He came to power in the first place because he got the most votes. It wasn't some sort of procedural chicanery.

As someone mentioned above, the new constitution was flawed, and Morsi was also trying to rapidly transform government.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:39 AM on August 16, 2013


The Muslim Brotherhood has been the voice of the voiceless

If those thugs are your voice, you deserve to be voiceless.
posted by ocschwar at 11:42 AM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


So you're saying that they have to destroy the country to save it?
posted by Justinian at 11:46 AM on August 16, 2013


If those thugs are your voice, you deserve to be voiceless.

I watched Fog of War for the first time recently... Lesson #1: Empathize with your enemy
posted by KokuRyu at 12:02 PM on August 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


As several people have already noted, the democratic institutions set up after Mubarak's fall were shaky at best - and given that most Egyptians have had experience of decades of brutal authoritarianism with a thin veneer of democratic rhetoric (rigged elections, a "president"-for-life) the turn to violent means of trying to push their own disparate visions of their national future shouldn't come as such a shock, even if it is depressing.

The Egyptians are facing a lot of serious choices with potentially devastating consequences: how to value democracy vs. their fear of anarchy or revolution, the relative dangers of a secular military state vs. that of an Islamic theocracy - and I'd remind people that Egyptians are making that choice in the context of very real and present examples in Turkey (especially before the 1990s) on the one hand and the Gulf states on the other.

They've having to make a choice between different roads, none of which offer anything like the world we in the USA take for granted: economic dynamism, strong legal freedoms, a democratic system that, while imperfect, is so strongly grounded in historical experience and cultural instinct as to be in its essentials unquestioned.

And what choices they make determine not just some abstract question of how their society should be governed but what dangers they and their families and neighbors will face from the governing authorities and from members of opposing factions over the years to come. Their own lives might be the price of making overly idealistic choices. Morsi was not thrown out because of some basic failure of understanding of the Egyptian people regarding how democracy is supposed to work, it's that people looked at what he was apparently doing and whose interests he seemed interested in serving and decided the price was too high to uphold an abstract principle that would have been eliminated by the man himself if the mob hadn't got their hand in first.
posted by AdamCSnider at 12:04 PM on August 16, 2013 [13 favorites]


I think the actions which led to Morsi's overthrow and the military's behavior over the last few days have to be looked at separately. Even if the former is justifiable that doesn't automatically make everything they do justifiable. Massacres are massacres.
posted by Justinian at 12:09 PM on August 16, 2013


I don't think you will see too much disagreement on that.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:13 PM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


If those thugs are your voice, you deserve to be voiceless.

Hmmm. Yeah. Whatever.

Al Jazeera. Try watching the online live feed Al Jazeera English.
posted by Mister Bijou at 12:17 PM on August 16, 2013


I watched Fog of War yt for the first time recently... Lesson #1: Empathize with your enemy yt

Tell you what: when I'm done empathizing with the experiences of the people whose churches have been burned, businesses vandalized, et cetera, I'll try to spare some empathy with the people doing the burning.

I only got so much E to go around, yo.
posted by ocschwar at 12:28 PM on August 16, 2013


You're mixing up empathy with sympathy.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:33 PM on August 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Justinian: A coup against an authoritarian figure from a theocratic party, installed by machinations based on the results of the first election held under a hastily re-written constitution

Another way to say it is "the guy who got the most votes". I guess that doesn't sound as bad, though.


Well, if all you care about is the most literal possible definition of "democracy", then you can't really complain about things such as the GOP changing voting laws to reduce the turnout of people who don't vote for them.

But an actual democratic society doesn't involve chicanery before the election (not sure why you think last second constitution re-writes don't qualify) and involve governning democratically once elected. For example, not making the governor of Luxor one of the people who slaughtered innocent tourists there in the 90s.

Yes, massacres are massacres. But "elections" are not elections.
posted by spaltavian at 12:50 PM on August 16, 2013


You're mixing up empathy with sympathy.

“Meanwhile, the poor Babel fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different races and cultures, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation.”
posted by ocschwar at 12:53 PM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


> The Egyptians are facing a lot of serious choices with potentially devastating consequences: how to value
> democracy vs. their fear of anarchy or revolution, the relative dangers of a secular military state vs. that of an Islamic theocracy

Down under everything else Egypt is in desperate straits because it doesn't grow enough food to feed the population it has. It has been making up the difference by importing shiploads of wheat for subsidized bread. To buy wheat you have to have foreign exchange; Egypt has none. It has no oil to sell. It used to make a good deal of money on tourism (lots of stuff in Egypt that tourists might want to see) but that's collapsed because now tourists are afraid to come. The country is existing on loans, and the loans will dry up at some point (ask Greece). Both the MB and the army are perfectly well aware of this, which does nothing to lower the tension. Whichever side wins now, it will soon be facing a skeleton army of hungry Egyptians.
posted by jfuller at 1:08 PM on August 16, 2013


Down under everything else Egypt is in desperate straits because it doesn't grow enough food to feed the population it has. It has been making up the difference by importing shiploads of wheat for subsidized bread.

I don't think the issue is Egypt's ag output, because food security affects almost every nation, even ones in the OECD. OECD nations, however, typically have the income to pay for food imports.

The challenge is that Egypt's economy is not significantly diversified enough to allow people to purchase everyday staples, like bread.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:50 PM on August 16, 2013


Mubarak is looking pretty good right now.
posted by humanfont at 6:00 PM on August 16, 2013


Mubarak is looking pretty good right now.

More cluelessness.
posted by Mister Bijou at 6:08 PM on August 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hulagu Khan is looking pretty good right now.
posted by Apocryphon at 6:17 PM on August 16, 2013


None of Egypt's economic problems justifies massacring innocent people in the street, in my opinion. It seems obvious to me that this was the worst decision the military could have made, and that the best way to deal with protestors would have been to ignore them and stay focused on putting together effective governing institutions and stimulating the economy. It is really looking like the people in Egypt who supported the uprising against the Muslim Brotherhood as a continuation of the revolution have been betrayed by the military.

Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.

Maybe in cases where there are large divisions and conflict in a society, winner take all Democracy - where the winner writes the constitution and controls the next elections - is not necessarily the least worst form of government. In cases like this it seems to be important to insure that power is shared between all sectors of society and that protections for minority groups are in place.
posted by Golden Eternity at 6:53 PM on August 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


the best way to deal with protestors would have been to ignore them and stay focused on putting together effective governing institutions and stimulating the economy

Which may have been an effective strategy if they weren't attacking neighbourhoods, burning churches and shooting Christians (among others).

I do however share your fear that the military is not taking this on in good faith. But to be clear, there was no good way out here - the MB were unwilling to talk and hellbent on violence. It's hard to deal with such a large sector of society who have taken that approach without someone getting hurt.

And to be clear, the majority of Egyptians never supported Morsi - in the runoff vote, they had to choose between him and a former member of the Mubarak regime who's specialty was torture. Many of those that did vote voted for him based on a number of important promises that were broken as soon as he took power. So the winner-take-all democracy doesn't really work either, especially if it is looking increasingly unlikely that there will actually be another round of elections.

It's also worth noting in all this that a significant number of Egyptians, on either side, are functionally illiterate and are often dependent on those they trust for information on what's going on, whether face to face or by tuning into their favourite TV channel. The biggest issue is how to build a system of trust and informed decision-making when Mubarak worked for 30 years to ensure that as many people as possible were uneducated and misinformed, and therefore more easily manipulated.
posted by scrute at 7:12 PM on August 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Democratically elected religious authoritarianism. Enlightenment never saw this coming!
posted by telstar at 12:04 AM on August 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Egyptian forces storm al-Fath mosque.
New deaths as military-backed government considers legally dissolving Muslim Brotherhood, forcing it underground. (Guardian).
Egypt is waging a war against the forces of terrorism and extremism, an Egyptian presidential adviser has said amid turmoil in the country that has claimed hundreds of lives. (Al Jazeera).
posted by adamvasco at 11:45 AM on August 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Egypt’s Counter Revolution LRB Adam Shatz.
Arabist - Attacks on police stations and churches.
Twenty other police stations were attacked, often with weapons that they were not prepared for. Demonstrators who claimed to be with the Muslim Brotherhood threw a police car with 5 policemen from a bridge killing all of them.
posted by adamvasco at 11:58 AM on August 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Daily Star: Egypt violence sparks protests across Muslim world

The point the article is making is that these (pro-Muslim Brotherhood) protests were not put down by riot police, even though similar ones have been. On the other hand, neither was the protest in "occupied Jerusalem", as the byline puts it, and I don't think you could accuse the Israeli government of being pro-MB.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:45 PM on August 17, 2013


This interview with Eric Trager makes a lot of sense: The Truth About Egypt
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:56 PM on August 17, 2013


Muslim Brotherhood active in Australia
Sydney's Egyptian community has revealed that the Muslim Brotherhood movement behind now ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi has opened an office in the western suburbs.
Apparently they evaded scrutiny when they opened an office, two years ago, by cunningly registering their name as Moslem Brothers Incorporated. See? Not Brotherhood. And they spelled the word "Muslim" differently too. It's a sort of steganographicolonoscopy. They were flying below the wires. If they had been open and upfront and had called themselves The Moslem Brotherhood they would almost certainly have been detected by now.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:05 AM on August 18, 2013


The Sinai Peninsula is heating up. Here's an article with some background on the situation: The Curse of Sinai

The Sinai Peninsula borders (is part of) Egypt, of course, and the Gaza Strip, and Israel. Jordan is a few miles along the coast, and Saudi Arabia is across the Gulf of Aqaba, which is never more than about 30 km / 20 miles wide. Yemen, Sudan and Eritrea are a couple of thousand miles down the Red Sea, and I suppose that sea traffic to and from the Sinai Peninsula is pretty much open.

Egypt's operations in the Peninsula are constrained to some extent by the Camp David accords, which limit its deployment of troops and heavy equipment. Israel has semi-officially agreed not to hold Egypt to its terms because of the deteriorating situation there. One thing contributing to Egypt's financial problems is that its gas pipelines to Israel and Jordan kept on being blown up. They are now closed off. In the case of the pipeline to Israel it was ostensibly a political decision not to reopen it, but that doesn't explain Jordan.

Hamas, which rules Gaza, has strong organisational ties with the Muslim Brotherhood. I was frankly surprised to see that Egypt maintained its border controls after the change of government, but they are probably now tighter than they have been since the Israeli withdrawal: not only is the border closed "indefinitely" but the smugglers' tunnels are being shut down. Gazans could formerly order KFC and have it delivered (yes, really) via tunnel from Rafah; now they have trouble getting anything through. Israel has increased deliveries from its side in response, but it's more bureaucratic and expensive: you certainly can't just order something and have it delivered a few hours later.

Israel has been attacked from across the Egyptian border a number of times - I can think of five or ten this year (and it may be many more, I haven't been watching for them). Something new apparently happened last week: Israel responded by attacking the "militants" via a drone, rather than (e.g.) just returning fire. Both Israel and Egypt have been very close-mouthed about this; neither one wants to admit how weak Egypt's control is.

Anyway, the situation is worth watching. I wouldn't be at all surprised if somebody - Israel, Egypt, or the USA - is forced to start a military operation there in the next year or so.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:46 PM on August 18, 2013


Joe in Australia: " or the USA - is forced to start a military operation there in the next year or so."

Ugh. Please no.
posted by Big_B at 10:10 AM on August 19, 2013


I wouldn't be at all surprised if somebody - Israel, Egypt, or the USA - is forced to start a military operation there in the next year or so.

Or escalate the one that's already there.
posted by Etrigan at 10:12 AM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hosni Mubarak to be freed
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:28 AM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


The timing of that Mubarak announcement is crazy. Intentionally or not it would seem to send a message to the MB...
posted by rosswald at 1:13 PM on August 19, 2013


How Obama Lost His Influence in Egypt
The death toll is topping 600 in Cairo—and what can the administration do? The White House’s moves since the Arab Spring have weakened any leverage it might wield.


My observations: Yes, USAn foreign policy is a mess. On the other hand, Egypt's problems are structural as much as they are political, and I don't think the USA could have stopped the revolution; the election of the Muslim Brotherhood; and the natural consequences of a theocratic party seizing the reins of civil power in a divided country.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:52 AM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Maybe there was a small window of opportunity for Obama to step into the negotiations when Morsi conceded to Sisi's original package of concessions. I guess things were too far along at that point.

Morsi Spurned Deals, Seeing Military as Tamed
The day before the protests, General Sisi called Mr. Morsi to press him for a package of concessions, including a new cabinet. But Mr. Morsi refused, saying he needed to consult first with his Islamist coalition.

When the protests came last Sunday, demonstrators were energized by the general’s suggestions of a possible intervention. Millions poured into the streets.
[...]
The next day, on Monday, General Sisi gave political leaders a 48-hour ultimatum to reach a compromise. A shaken Morsi adviser, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said at the time the president’s team considered it “a military coup.”
[...]
At a meeting with General Sisi at 2 p.m. the next day, Mr. Morsi’s advisers said that they had their coalition’s blessing to accept the earlier concessions the general had suggested before the protest.

But when the general returned to the Republican Guard building at 6 p.m., he said “the opposition” had balked, the advisers said.

Senate aide says US has suspended military aid to Egypt; US officials say nothing has stopped

Egyptian prime minister proposes ban of Muslim Brotherhood
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:04 AM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


The military is currently rounding up as many of the leaders of the MB as they can get their hands on. I hope they don't try to get away with executing them all.
posted by Justinian at 1:22 PM on August 20, 2013


Egypt's ElBaradei faces court for 'betrayal of trust'
Khaled Dawoud, a former aide to ElBaradei who joined him in quitting the National Salvation Front following the crackdown, said any decision to try the Nobel peace prize winner would be a political escalation against critics of the military crackdown.

"If this case against ElBaradei is true then it is a major escalation showing that things are getting very polarized. You're either on this side or on that side," he told Reuters.

"Things took a very different turn from what someone like myself expected when I took part in the June 30 demonstrations against Mursi."
posted by Golden Eternity at 3:41 PM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


RevolutionFilter: "Things took a very different turn from what someone like myself expected...."
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:26 PM on August 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Egypt's cruellest week
posted by lalochezia at 9:17 PM on August 20, 2013


Foreign Policy has has a lot of good coverage. Here are two articles about the awful things going on: A Secret Funeral in Cairo and How 36 Egyptian Prisoners Suffocated to Death in the Back of a Police Van.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:09 AM on August 21, 2013


Egypt In Context: Strategic Reasons For Some Of The Baffling Events
posted by Golden Eternity at 1:37 PM on August 21, 2013


Not Egypt but in the region: There are now claims Syria has killed hundreds of civilians with chemical weapons. The whole region seems to be turning into a giant shitbomb.
posted by Justinian at 5:01 PM on August 21, 2013


Haven't those claims been circulating for months now?
posted by Etrigan at 5:04 PM on August 21, 2013


This is a major new incident.

It's pretty clear that someone did use them. Some apparently claim the rebels might have done it so we can't automatically blame the government. I haven't been following this closely enough to know if that is a credible claim or not.

UN has 'strong concern' over reports of hundreds killed in Syria chemicals weapons attacks
posted by Drinky Die at 5:06 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Warning: Many of the photos and videos in this post will be disturbing to some readers. They feature numerous images of dead bodies and people in distress, including young children and infants.

Atlantic Wire, The Visual Evidence of a Chemical Attack in Syria Is Overwhelming and Disturbing
posted by Drinky Die at 5:10 PM on August 21, 2013


The Obama administration "strongly condemned" the reported use of the weapons which, if confirmed, would be by far the worst known use of poison gas during the country’s deadly civil war.

So yeah, the shitbombness of Syria is a difference of degree rather than of kind.
posted by Etrigan at 5:20 PM on August 21, 2013


Yeah, there have been allegations before now but this time they're not talking about some scattered casualties but a major attack with many hundreds or even over a thousand killed, many of them women and children.
posted by Justinian at 6:11 PM on August 21, 2013


Flow on consequences for visitors to Gaza: Egypt has closed the Rafah crossing into Gaza, trapping tourists inside. Israel has offered to let them leave via the Erez crossing, but Hamas won't let them. Awkward.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:52 PM on August 22, 2013


Egypt’s Media Counter-Revolution
In the final years of the Hosni Mubarak era, private television networks and newspapers had opened the door to critical coverage of the regime; their encouragement and reporting helped pave the way for the revolution. There was hope that with a toppled regime might also come a truly independent press, one of the few institutions that could steer the country as it tumbled through a tumultuous post-revolutionary era. But now, when the official state-run television channel puts a banner reading “Egypt Fighting Terrorism” in the corner of its screen (referring, of course, to the Brotherhood), the private networks do so as well. Over the weekend, the privately owned OnTV treated viewers to a highlight reel of the police clearing the Brotherhood sit-in, set gloriously to the soundtrack of “Rocky.”
[...]
At night, networks host debate panels where the guests disagree only in degree about how horribly the Western media is distorting the story of Egypt, or how much President Obama has abandoned the country by throwing in his lot with the Brotherhood. (The winner on that score was the state-run Channel One, which on Sunday hosted a guest—a former judge for the Supreme Constitutional Court, no less—who alleged that Obama has a half-brother who is a key financier of the Brotherhood.)
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:45 AM on August 23, 2013


Watch a Jaw-Dropping Visualization of Every Protest Since 1979
posted by jeffburdges at 10:34 AM on August 24, 2013


Not Egypt but in the region: There are now claims Syria has killed hundreds of civilians with chemical weapons. The whole region seems to be turning into a giant shitbomb.

MSF-backed hospitals treated Syria 'chemical victims': Medecins Sans Frontieres says hospitals it supports in Syria treated about 3,600 patients with "neurotoxic symptoms", of whom 355 have died.
posted by homunculus at 11:52 AM on August 24, 2013


Four Al-Jazeera journalists arrested in Cairo
posted by adamvasco at 4:01 AM on August 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


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